As Joseph Campbell taught us, there aren’t a lot of stories. There’s myth and then there’s variation on it. And while we may not be telling hero stories within the romance genre, there are only a few basic plots.
- There’s the innocent and the rake. (Related: various redemption fantasies and Beauty and the Beast-type stuff.)
- There’s love across some sort of big old status divide, such as class, race, family expectation, vampire/human, etc. (Related: forbidden love and Romeo and Juliet-type stuff.)
- There’s the dispossessed hero(ine). (Related: the hero(ine) wants to get the hell out Dodge, the hero(ine) wants to change her fate, and Cinderella-type stuff.)
- There’s the protector/protectee. (Related: most romantic suspense and serial killer-type stuff.)
- There’s the arranged marriage/marriage of convenience.
And obviously all of these plots can be reversed, used in concert, or be adapted for MM or FF romance. But my point is: there really aren’t that many stories. What matters isn’t originality. That’s very difficult to achieve and perhaps over-rated. No, what varies are the telling and the characters.